Welcome to possibly the strangest Music Monday post to date. This week we’re listening to Sturgill Simpson‘s latest offering, A Sailor’s Guide to Earth (if you’re a member of Amazon Prime). So why is that so strange? It’s country-ish (more on that later). I really don’t care for country music – especially the twangy, warbly vocals. So let’s get this out of the way now. If Simpson would simply sing rather than warble, this would be an outstanding album. As it is, it’s still pretty damned good.
The instrumentation is what helps keep this from becoming unlistenable for me. I don’t mind the steel guitar or the typical Fender Telecaster because neither are overly used. The use of the Wurlitzer organ and Moog synthesizer add a familiar 70s/80s rock feel. What I really enjoy, though, is his implementation of horns and strings – especially the use of a classic violin rather than a fiddle. This is really highlighted on his surprising cover of Nirvana’s In Bloom. From the start of the song, I can easily envision a sail boat under an increasingly star-filled sky as the sun sets. With its sails slack, it’s going nowhere in a hurry and the few passengers aboard don’t mind a bit. He follows that song up with Brace For Impact (Live A Little) which brings the Wurlitzer organ back for a bar room, blues-rock grinder.
For those discerning ears out there, can you pick out which song(s) feature a flugelhorn and bagpipes?